Sunday, 15 April 2018

Family Fun at Center Parcs with a High Wire Tree Trek

LIFE - 9th-15th April 2018

Monday to Friday
Off to Center Parcs in Whinfell Forest, Cumbria with G. and Nh.  - they love it there.

Arrived  early to enjoy as much as possible of the first day - and even better the sun came out and whilst G and Nh headed off to book activities, N. and I enjoyed a picnic lunch sitting outside. enjoying the rare warmth of the weather.  Just as well l as we were back to normal the rest of the week, with solid  grey skies - not that it stopped us.    

N . and I contented ourselves with some gentle walks - it is possible to get away from the crowds - and just had a relaxing time. 

Looking across the lake to the Swimming Paradise Centre 

 One of the man animal carvings to be found around the centre.

In contrast, G and Nh never stopped  - rock wall climbing, cycling, boating, pottery painting, lots of sessions in the Swimming Paradise and the highlight had to be on our last day when  Nh.  was brave enough at 9 years old  to tackle the high wire tree trekking - along with an instructor!  She just didn't seem to have the fear factor!  We were the nervous ones down on the ground.  

  Yes - she is that little figure high up among the trees.

An evening view

Friday - Sunday
Returned to Earlston after a lovely family break together - and it is amazing how after such a short time away, home looks so welcoming - with even the garden beginning to flower. 

A return to the domestic scene of washing, ironing  and tidying up - plus putting all our photographs on the computer.  We have had two fine days, so I set to and put fresh wood stain on our garden trellis and back gate - a question of seizing the day when I was not doing much else.   Relaxed in the evening by watching the foot tapping musical  "42nd Street".  

The end to a good week - and even Spring has come at last. 

Journal Jottings   
h Recording my everyday life for future family historians  
Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings
I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Home is Best amid Rain, Sleet and Snow

Life 26th March to 7th April 2018

Rain, rain, go away
Come again another Day! 

And that children's rhyme sums up our weather - snow, sleet, day-long heavy  rain temperatures as low as 3/36F  and,  very occasionally some  sunny periods.  I cannot remember such a bad  Easter week as we have had this year.
The scene outside on the afternoon of Easter Monday.

It  has been ideal for curling up with a good book!

The English Girl  by Margaret Leroy.
One of the best books I have read recently.  I loved the author's style in painting in words the sights, sounds and scents of Vienna in the changing seasons.    17 year old Stella sets out in 1937  from her sheltered family life in Britain to study music in the Austrian capital. She experiences her first love with a young Jewish doctor and a growing awareness that life is not always what it seems,  in a city facing the threat of Hitler's invasion.   Told in the first person, the writing is evocative and sensitive, with twists towards the end. I was totally engrossed in the characters and the poignant tale - it would make a wonderful, moving film! 

Miss Emily, by Nuala O’Connor
A slight 230 page book telling the story set in mid 19th century Amhurst, Mass.of the growing friendship between  American poet Emily Dickinson and the family's young Irish immigrant maid, Ada Concannon.

The short chapters give alternating viewpoints, and are beautifully written with an economy of style. I was captivated by it from the start - the elegiac descriptions of the garden, the smells of cooking, and the blossoming courtship of Ada and her suitor Dermot. The side characters are equally well depicted - Ada's kindly uncle, Emily's extended family. 

 I knew virtually nothing about the real Emily , and initially was impatient with her self-absorption, and preoccupation with her writing. But the gentle nature of the domestic scene changes for Ada in a brief two-page chapter, depicting powerfully (but not graphically), the brutal attack on her, and its dreadful aftermath. Emily overcomes her reluctance to meet the outside world by supporting Ada against the moral indignation of her family. Ada's feisty Irish spirit shines through. A page turner of a book.


At the Wednesday Club we had a lively talk from a local historian who has written books on the haunted Borders, murders in the Borders and.  in his latest work,  breaches of promise  of marriage. He regaled  the story of a murder that took place in 1877 in the Commercial Inn at Earlston, which many in the audience were unaware of.

Mountain Rescue was the theme of the Women’s Group meeting.  when we had speakers from the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue and the Borders Search and Rescue Team, plus the star of the evening, one of their rescue dogs. We saw how she was trained and how she found a hidden "casuality.

The volunteers show a high degree of training and commitment and did a sterling job in the recent snows, deliverer prescriptions to vulnerable people n the countryside and helping to ferry care workers and staff to hospitals. etc.  Among their anecdotes, we heard about some fell runners in the Cheviot Hills, dressed in trainers and T-shirts who got caught in a snow storm and had to be rescued, some suffering from hypothermia. 

Got ahead with the "52 Ancestors" prompts - posted a profile of my Grandfather's House. a profile of my maiden aunt (Aunt Edith) and for the theme "Storms" turned to N. 19th century maritime ancestors  who sailed out of South Shields on Tyneside. Plus caught up with Journal Jottings and a article for the Auld Earlston blog.


Easter at Kings - An evening of Easter Music sung beautifully by the choir at Kings College, Cambridge =  one of the very few acknowledgements on TV that Easter is  a religious festival and not just for chicks, bunnies, lambs and aster eggs.  

Mastermind Final - a worthy end to the  quiz competition  with the contestants neck and neck after the specialist round  and the winner striding ahead  with a brilliant general knowledge round.   

University Challenge  - some very close nail biting contests.  We were pleased to see both Edinburgh and Newcastle in the semi finals - helping to break the dominance of the Oxbridge colleges.  

Masterchef Amateurs - we have been keen followers of this series with such a talented  tentacled, likeable set of contestants. I cannot remember seeing such a high stand-rd of cooking before on the programme. Even when someone goes out, he/she is full of praise for  for the whole experience and how much they have learned.  I like the fact there is no cash prize but the prestige of winning. I cannot stand the document you often get on reality shows where the loser say "I am gutted"!


By the end of this week, it has been getting warmer, thank goodness and even daffodils in the garden are coming into flower.  Just in time for us heading off with G and Nh to  Center Parcs in Whinfell Forest, Cumbria, where they will throw themselves into activities and N. and I will relax and have some gentle walks. 

Another photograph  of Melrose Abbey, this time bathed in sunshine  


Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians  
Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings
I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary

Sunday, 25 March 2018

A Weather Rhyme, TV Favourites and Some Silent Screams

LIFE - 19th-25th March 2017 
Tree, Dawn, Bird, Winter, Weather, Cold

No wonder we  talk about the weather so much in Britain -  in the space of the last seven days  we have been out sweeping  snow, been blown away by gusty winds, walked through  icy rain and, as a bonus, enjoyed lovely Spring days of sunshine  - which meant we were able  to sit  in our little sun room. 

But so we don't get too hopeful - the forecast is for a wintry Easter weekend!

I was reminded of the rhyme,  made famous by Flanders and Swan in the 1960's. 

January brings the snow
makes our feet and fingers glow

February's ice and sleet
Freeze the toes right off our feet

Welcome March with wintry wind
Would thou wert not so unkind

April beings the sweet Spring showers
On and on for hours and hours! 

ect. etc.  

A good timely choice  of speaker with  the topic  "Spring Gardening"  with a demonstration on planting  pots for the patio and the opportunity to buy some blooms - which I did!


A new series with Michael Portillo on  Great Indian Railway Journeys. I must admit  my knowledge of the country is very sketchy - I know some place names but not where  they are in a map.  His first journey was Amritsar to Shimla at the foothills of the Himalayas which in the days of the Raj  was was the summer home for the British. A  fascinating programme with great credit to the cameramen - and I learned a lot,  both about the history of India and India today.

India Amritsar Golden Temple India India I
The Golden Temple at Amritsar in the Punjab region of  north west India.

Masterchef - the latest series featuring amateur cooks puts me to shame!  There are some brilliant entrants, with a lot of ethnic influences in their cooking.

I know at home we eat healthily (high in our 5 portions of fruit and veg a day),   but my range is very limited and  preparing meals does not come high on my priorities of how I spend my time.

Pointless Quiz - some good formats of questions recently.  One round featured a list of book titles (two per author)  and contestants were asked to name the author. There was a mixture of familiar classics e.g. "Kidnapped*  & "Treasure Island";  "Sense and Sensibility" & "Emma"  etc.  and also modern novelists e.g. Dan Brown, John Grisham. 

One contestant was quite prepared to admit on national television "This is a hopeless round for me - I don't read"!!!   Does she realise what she is missing out on in her life?

Lost Post - on the main computer.  I drafted a post for the Auld Earlston  blog; finished it and went to do lunch. I decided on my IPad to  check it over once more before I clicked "Publish" -  I don't  know what on earth I did,  but suddenly the page was blank and  Ihad lost it.  I must have deleted it by mistake!!!!   So back to the drawing board and a test of my memory  of what I had written. Computers certainly do test my patience as well. 
Furious, Upset, Person, Woman, Angry

Missing Post Van -  In Earlston we lost our village post office a year ago and it is only in the past  month we  have had a mobile post office visiting on a Wednesday and Friday  afternoons.  On the principle of "Use it or Lose it" I have made a point of going  to the Square with my regular overseas mail that needs weighing - rather than make a bus journey to a town post office.

Friday afternoon - no sign of the van in the Red Lion Hotel car park.    I went into the hotel and "no", they had no word of  its non-appearance.  Ditto another shop. I can quite understand that a situation might arise e.g. snow, vehicle breakdown.  staff illness that stops it coming, but surely there is an obligation to get a message to the village? 

By this time, my hackles at this lack of customer service were high!   Came back home, looked up "Post Office"  in the phone  book, was referred to the entry under  Royal Mail who were singularly unhelpful,  (nothing to do with them), but gave me a number to ring - all I got was an answerphone, so I fired off a complaint on the post office website - it has been acknowledged but I await a reply with interest. 

To End on A Positive Note
We had Nh after school a few times this week and enjoyed playing card games and "Articulate".   She has developed an interest in chess and it is lovely to see her playing it with her Papa, as it has never been a game that appealed to me.  

Chess, Pawn, Mate, Queen, Game

Images  - courtesy of Pixabay  

Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians  
Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings
I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Hassles & More Snow, plus a Colourful Blanket and Blood Bikes.

LIFE:  12th - 18th March 2018
A week noted for hassles of one kind and another,  with mixed up appointments, confusion over dates, major computer problems (yet again!) and a brief power cut. 

But let’s start with some positives:
  • I finished my winter project - a crochet blanket for KAS -  the  Knit a Square charity ( - the brief - to make bright and colourful squares for blankets, beanie hats, handwarmers, soft toys and blankets for distribution to nurseries and crèches for young Aids orphans in Southern Africa. 

  • At the Auld Earlston meeting we  viewed some fascinating old cine  film of the 1930’s, transferred to disc, with views of the horse and hounds gathering in the Square, children excitedly leaving school,and taking part in school sports, horse drawn vehicles, harvesting and a society wedding with a military guard of honour, the women in fox furs and the men in top hats.  It will  make a great new item for our next show in October.
  • The W.I. (Women's Institute) Meeting welcomed  two Blood Bikers, with their motor bike parked outside,  They were volunteers who provide an emergency, usually after-hours, courier service, transporting medical items such as bi-opsies, platelets, drugs and notes  between hospitals,mainly  between the Borders and Edinburgh. A fascinating taalk and another example of volunteer efforts and community spirit, .

Computer Hassles 
The computer had been giving us problems, taking ages to log on and log off and seemingly endless sessions of "configuring" - and we were warned it might need to be taken away to be sorted.

So I had a mad session clearing e-mails and writing posts for my three blogs
  • Family History Fun -  in the series "52 Ancestors in 52 Days, the theme was "Luck", so I wrote about  an unknown  third cousin making contact with me and giving a wonderful boost to my blogging activities with a wealth of stories, photos and extended family connections.
    A charming advertising blotter of my mother's second cousin  Elsie Oldham, who ran a hairdressing busines from her home, using the more refined name of Elise, promising "Bobbing, Shingling and Marcel Waves".
  • Auld Earlston  - given =i it is three years this month  since the blog was launched, a look back at some popular posts. 

    Earlston Square c.1900 with the Reading Room and the Corn Exchange.

  • Journal Jottings on the previous two weeks’ activities  - the highlight the theatre  visit to  Edinburgh to see "Carmen" with a difference. 
And Finally Amazing what you get done when the computer isn’t there.  I had a major  session updating the organisation of our household papers and files - ditto my family history material and sorted out my wool basket.  I even did some polishing - something that tends only to,get done ahead of visitors!

On a sad note, I attended the funeral of a neighbour, held at  the Borders Crematorium, nestling under the Eildon Hills - a beautiful, peaceful setting,  and so much better for  grieving families who until a few years ago  had to  make the stressful journey to Edinburgh..  

The week has ended with yet more snow
Our back garden
Melrose Abbey 


Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians  

Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings
I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

A City Visit, A Different "Carmen" and a Frightened Visitor.

                      LIFE:  5th-11th MARCH  2018
The week began with a thaw, with the result we reached the mucky stage of the snow piled up at the side of roads.  By the Friday morning we could actually see grass in the garden  - and now the rains have come. 

Earlston Square just after the snowstorm and before the gritters got to work. 

Took the bus up to Edinburgh on a bright morning for a very enjoyable day out with a friend.  A lovely journey, with the sun glinting the snow still covering  the hills and fields, yet once we reached  the city, you would never know they had had any snow - quite a contrast. 

We enjoyed lunch at an Italian restaurant - tasty lasagne and a yummy choice of desserts - I had the ice-cream selection:  peach & amaretto, strawberry and Belgian chocolate. 

We had time to browse the bookshop nearby  - so much for the digital revolution calling the end to book production!   The range of stock was impressive and I was pleased to find a little history book for Nh’s  latest  school project.

Across  to the Festival Theatre to see Ballet Hispanico.  In some way,  to call themselves ballet was a misnomer - forget any ideas about seeing tutus and girls dancing on pointes.  The company, from the USA and making their debut in Europe, focuses on presenting the Latino  culture through contemporary dance - so it was very much outside my comfort zone of classical ballet, but for me the attraction was the Bizet music and the chance to see something different
Carmen Gypsy Spanish Woman Dancer Girl Ros
 It was not what I was expecting -   which was  something to be a colourful antidote to the winter weather!  Plus the chance to  hear Bizet's powerful music.  But there was  no Flamenco style dancing, no wild gypsy flounced skirts, no bright colours.  The minimalist set did not bother me, but I did wish for a bit more variation in the costumes - everyone (men and women)  wore white,  apart from  Carmen in black and it  was often difficult to tellwho was taking the other principal parts. Fortunately  I knew the storyline which helped. 

Still the innovative, energetic choreography was brilliant, athletic, lyrical at times,  moving, and dramatic  -  warmly appreciated by the audience.  Indeed a different "Carmen" and I am glad I saw it! 


Usual drafting and publishing of blog posts. 
  • For "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" I wrote a profile of my great aunt Jennie Danson (1897-1986), the youngest child and only daughter (born after eight brothers). She displayed a feisty spirit, determination and commitment to her family throughout her life.
  • Disappointed at the response to the Auld Earlston blog post on John Simpson,woollen manufacturer.  It somehow did not capture attention with only 11 pageviews to date - one of my lowest ever, though I tried to make his life interesting,  as an example of the many self-made  Victorians who made their mark.
  • Wrote more book reviews for the library - an enjoyable task. especially  after Melrose Library circulated my first listing to the other libraries in the region to use in their displays.   It is not all that arduous, as I cut and paste, and edit, reviews I have already written on the Good Reads website.
Chestnut-Tailed StarlingI had heard this funny noise in our kitchen, and could not work out what it was.  Then  a starling suddenly appeared fluttering it wings and darting about.  My first reaction?  Call my husband of course!  He managed to usher the bird  into the hall and out the front door - and fortunately no mess left.

The major puzzle - how had it got into the house?   The back door had never been opened that morning, the bedroom, bathroom  and kitchen windows I had opened for some fresh air into the house, but we live in a bungalow and the window openings  are very slight. 


Facebook Face Facebook Icon Facebook LogoIn the past, I have not been a fan of Facebook, largely from reading the adverse press coverage on teenage use, trolls, trivia etc.  I came late to it,  when it was suggested I was not making the best use of social media in promoting  my family history blog - I never realized there was such a wealth of support out there from the  various genealogy groups.   

However praise where praise is due - and it has been a force for the good during the snowstorms - how on earth would so many people have been kept easily informed on school closures, road closures, bus  services still operating,  events cancelled etc. etc.  Plus there have been some wonderful snow images  published by amateur photographers  - my favourite site on Facebook Bonny Border Views.


Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians  

Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings
I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary.